2-day SE Netherlands-Maastricht excursion (3-4 September)




We have been able to organize an excitingly diverse programme of different activities and excursions before, during, and after the ICP12 conference in Utrecht. For some of these a minimum amount of participants is required, whereas for several, a limited participation is possible. It is therefore strongly advised to book you participation as soon as possible (first come first go !). Some of these activities/excursions are unique and only organized in relation to this conference.


SE-Netherlands: Paleoclimate variability. This two-day Excursion starts on Saturday 3 September 08:00 and ends on Sunday 4-September; expected return to Utrecht ~17:00)  (The programme includes e.g. type-locality of the Maastrichtian stage, Cretaceous climate cycles at ENCI quarry; shallow-water K/T boundary inside a man-made cave; visit to recent vineyard Apostelhoeve on ancient Roman vineyard-site (K/T-cave visit and Apostelhoeve will be done with alternating half-group size); dinner inside a cave, and staying in nextdoor hotel. Next day: visit to museum with most recovered fossils from the area including those from the ENCI quarry; a guided town tour in Maastricht, and a visit to the nearby unique Neolithic flint mine).

(costs: 250,- euro; required: minimum participants 30, max. 45; walking boots, reasonable hiking condition. Included costs: all bus transfers and entrance fees of mentioned activities, 1 night hotel on basis 2-p rooms; 2x simple lunch package; 1x dinner in cave; 1x breakfast). Anticipated guides during this excursion are: KT-specialist Jan Smit; Astronomical Cycles specialist Frits Hilgen, and Geochemist/wine-specialist Gert J de Lange.


This  two-day Excursion will cover various aspects of Paleo-climate variability. It will bring us from the ICP12 at Utrecht to Maastricht in the SE-corner of the Netherlands, in a 2.5 hour bus-ride.Subsequently, all activities are relatively nearby.






Rhythmic alternating layering of flint and chalk layers


ENCI Quarry (~2.5 hr)

The about 70 m thick Maastrichtian-age section in the ENCI Quarry changes from rhythmically bedded fine-grained outer-shelf nannofossil-rich


Path down into ENCI Quarry; black flint layers may correspond to Milankovitch cycles

chalk with flint horizons of the Gulpen Formation to shallow-water bioclastic limestones with abundant marine macrofossils of the Maastricht Formation.

Quarrying activities at the large quarry complex of ENCI-HeidelbergCement Group will officially come to an end on July 1, 2018. However, the stratotype section will be preserved, as will various faces within the quarry complex. We will have a look at the rhythmic flint-chalk rhythms and contemplate their origin. The upper part of the quarry consist of very fossiliferous tropical bioclastic limestones rich in belemnites, echinoderms, bryozoans, brachiopods and occasional coral patch reefs. The deep and shallow limestones are separated by the hardground of the Lichtenberg horizon, a favourite horizon for fossil hunters. The ENCI Quarry has recently yielded several spectacular mosasaur skeletons, that are now on display in the Natural History Museum in Maastricht (visit on day 2).

KT boundary Geulhemmerberg  (2 hr)


Map of the Geulhemmerberg galleries where the KPg boundary crops out. The ancient seafloor topography is quite rugged, with some knolls that are raised ~1.5 m above the seafloor. The basins between the knolls are filled with an alternation of clay-layers and bioclastic storm deposits

ENCIexcGeulhemmerThe Cretaceous Paleogene boundary crops out in the ceiling of the man-made quarry galleries of the Geulhemmer cave.

Because of its subterranean location and thin over-burden, many details of the KPg transition have been preserved that would otherwise be altered or diagenetically overprinted. The KPg transition is characterized by a succession of clay-layers, comparable with deep-water settings, but because of its shallow setting the ejecta from the Chicxulub impact, including iridium, have been dispersed. Yet, by comparison of the biota (dinoflagellates, benthic and planktonic foraminifers) in the clays with similar KPg boundary clays resting directly upon the thin ejecta layer in e.g. in Spain (Caravaca, Zumaya) and Denmark (Stevns Klint) it is established that these clay layers represent the first episode after the mass-extinction event. Because of its unique thickness (>50cm) and preservation, the boundary clay of the Geulhemmer cave offers unprecedented resolution of the first events after the mass-extinction in a shallow marine tropical setting. The clay-layers represent the short cooling episode of, presumably, the first 100 years after the Chicxulub impact.

The Geulhemmer cave represents thus far the only shallow-water KPg

transition that has survived erosion by the Lowermost Danian sealevel drop and transgressive surface, because of rapid subsidence in the Maastricht graben in the latest Crateceous-Danian.


Impression of the Geulhemmer cave with (on the left) one of the small depressions filled with (light yellow) cross-bedded storm layers, alternating with grey clay layers. The clay layers increase in thickness towards the 10cm thick e-clay, the first clay-layer that both covers depressions and knolls


Maastricht / towntour (2 hr)

Maastricht is a historical town with characteristic buildings in a very attractive setting and with people that are known to have a more ‘burgundian’ life style. Different types of rock from German, Belgian and local quarries have been used for ancient building construction or decoration.




Natural History Museum, Maastricht (1 hr)

The Natural History Museum (NHM) of Maastricht is situated at the Bosquetplein (Bosquet-square), in one of the most attractive parts of this historical town. For more than a century , the museum is located in the former monastery complex of the Grey sisters, and is best known for its unique collection of Cretaceous fossils, including various Mosasaurs, Prognathodons and Hadrosaurs. The monumental Monastery complex ‘ Sint-Elisabethsdal ‘, was inhabited by grey-sisters from 1673 to 1796. The heart of the complex consists of the 17th-century House ‘Stas in Maasland’, built in renaissance style with typical alternating layers and elegant, curling facades. The Interior of the property is still partly original with wooden floors and a ceiling with trough vaults. Also the two adjacent monastery wings date back to the 17th century, but these have been renovated. The former convent chapel in sober Baroque style dates from 1705.


The Natural History Museum of Maastricht harbours a very nice collection of local Cretaceous fossils, among which several Mosasaur skulls, and the fossils that were found in the ENCI quarry

The entrance portal was added in the late 18th century.










Neolithic Flint Mine Rijckholt (2.5 hr)

Extensive Neolithic flint mining industry existed in the Netherlands ranking amongst the most important in Europe.

The Prehistoric Flint Mines Working Group of the Dutch Geological Society, Limburg Section, carried out excavations of flint mines at Rijckholt-St. Geertruid (near Maastricht). The volunteer members of this group spent 3,767 man-days of free time exploring these mines.  The excavation proceeded from a tunnel, almost 150 m long, which was driven right across the mining area. On either side the prehistoric galleries were examined over a width of 10 meters. A total of 75 shafts and 1,526 square meters of galleries were examined, the entire area measuring 2,436 m2. A mining area of such an extent had not been investigated previously. The total area, however, is even more extensive. Underground mining extends over ~ 8 hectares; flint was extracted from an area of ~12 hectares, while the region with prehistoric mining activity is larger still and measures almost 25 hectares.

All shafts, galleries and objects found were plotted in great detail. The excavation yielded 14,549 artefacts, amongst which 14,217 stone picks, 216 hammer-stones, 43 voids (of wooden objects) as well as a few bones of deer and cattle. In addition, a human skull, numerous bones of mammals, thousands of snail shells and pieces of charcoal were collected. Radiocarbon (C14) dating of the charcoal finds yielded an age range of4315-4040 BC, but mining activities probably continued till 3,400 BC or even 2,650 BC.

ENCIexcRijck ENCIexcRijckholt

Excursion to the mine including the hike to arrive there, takes approx. 2.5 hr; hiking boots and warm clothes are needed (inside mine temperature ~10 C).



Apostelhoeve (2 hr)

Although wine production in the Netherlands is thought to have existed during Roman times, the first mentioning of viniculture dates back to 968. Most of the modern production of wine started ENCIexcApostelhoeveonly in the 1970s but is a growing branch of Dutch agriculture, its production being more than 1 million bottles in 2010. Currently, the country has 180 commercial vineyards, the oldest of which is the 15th-century Apostelhoeve (Apostle Farmstead), located south of Maastricht near the Belgian border (picture). Apostelhoeve wines have received various medals at international concourses: 9 gold and 11 silver medals. In addition these wines were served at important international meetings, amongst these, during the diner on 9-Dec-1991 immdediately after signing the treaty of Maastricht, i.e. celebrating the birth of the Euro.

During this excursion, we will visit the Apostelhoeve (1.5 hour), view the vineyards, enjoy the –for Dutch standards- spectacular view of the Jeker Valley, and see the wine cellar followed by wine tasting.



Prize: 250 Euro

This includes:

  • all bus transfers and entrance fees of mentioned activities
  • 1 night hotel on basis 2-p rooms
  • 2x simple lunch package
  • 1x dinner in cave
  • 1x breakfast

Required: walking boots, reasonable hiking condition

Minimum participants: 30

Maximum participants: 45

Anticipated guides during this excursion are: KT-specialist Jan Smit; Astronomical Cycles specialist Frits Hilgen, and Geochemist/wine-specialist Gert J de Lange.